Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Rethinking normal 1: putting normal in perspective

Posted in book recommendations, reexamining the fundamentals by Timothy Platt on August 28, 2013

We like to think of “normal” as fixed and settled, as if a constant and reliable compass point. And at any one time and at any one place and from any one cultural perspective, that can be true. That, obviously, leaves a lot of room for variation and for change. The two universal truths that can be said about “normal” is that it differs depending on who gets to define it, and that it changes and even for them, and both individually and collectively as communities. “Normal” changes. And the pace of that change also changes, and as an ongoing historical trend it has been changing progressively faster and faster. Technology and its diffusion and use form one of the largest single sources of this, and both for this change itself and for shaping the pace at which it proceeds. Cultural diffusion and the sharing and blending of different visions of normal constitute the second major force behind this change and its pace of development. And culture and technology work together synergistically in this too.

I have been writing about change and dealing with it professionally for as long as I have been working and I add writing, and have been writing about it in this blog for as long as I have been writing about anything in it. Much of this has focused on the individual as they plan out and execute on their work lives through the successions of jobs and career steps that they pursue. And much of this has focused on the individual business, and from startups in their earliest stages through to mature businesses in mature industries. I have also been writing on an ongoing basis about supply chain systems and business ecosystems, and about macroeconomics and the economics of information and of social networking interactions and connections. For references to all of this, I simply note my directories as appear in my blog template to the right of each new posting.

My goal here and for this posting and series is to focus on change at a still larger level, and across entire cultures and globally. And as a part of that, I will raise the question as to what technological and cultural change per se mean and of how their basic meanings are changing too.

I have been thinking about this set of issues for a long time now, and find myself starting this series now for a number of reasons. First, I have reached a point in my overall writing here in this blog where it makes sense to me to step back and look at change per se from this wider perspective. And second, I write this with a specific topically focused book recommendation in mind:

• McBride, T and R. Nief (2011) The Mindset Lists of American History: from typewriters to text messages, what ten generations of Americans think of as normal. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

I am going to take a wider ranging and longer timeframe approach to this topic than that book does, but note that many of the core issues that I would discuss here are at least noted upon there.

• I am going to start a journey into normal in my next series installment with a technology that is so basic and ingrained in our cultures and in our minds that we tend to take it for granted and not even see it for the sophisticated technology that it is: writing.
• After that, I am going to take a look at some specific technologies and their culturally shaped adaptation and implementation, and how they have and still are shaping and reshaping normal.
• And as of now at least, I plan on taking on the perhaps foolhardy task of trying to predict forward, at least a short distance, as to where our shared culturally and technologically defined normal is headed next, at least for a few of its possible next-step details.

Meanwhile, I am going to post this series to my blog directory that it perhaps best fits into: Reexamining the Fundamentals. You can find two other series there already, that also at least begin to address “normal” too.

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